Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturn

Today at lunch we had the incredible luck to hear a presentation by Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist on the team of the Cassini Imaging project. She brought with her some amazing images of Saturn and Saturn's moons and rings, which they have been exploring for years since the international Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn.

She is a very articulate and moving speaker and brought me to tears several times. She talked about the day when a probe was sent to the surface of Titan, ending over 300 years of speculation about what we might find there..and how that day should have been one when all humanity could celebrate and feel common cause. But do you even know when that was? (2004) She mentioned that next week, NASA will celebrate its 50th anniversary. And in that short time, humans have gone to every planet in our solar system. She talked about the way in which our species hurls itself out into the "maw" of space, just on the impulse to explore and to find out how we fit into the giant scheme of the universe.

Her ending images were so powerful. She reminded us of the power of the image of Earthrise, taken in 1968. She compared that image with one taken of a solar eclipse of Saturn. There is a tiny blue dot just to the left and above the rings. That dot is Earth.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Suburban issue

We have lived in our house for about 15 years. When we first moved, we had a garage sale to get rid of the stuff that didn't fit the house or was no longer needed. We met a few neighbors, and were stunned at what people bought and what they didn't.

Since then, we have accumulated and purged many times, but we have not had another garage sale. We almost always have had a box or two in the garage earmarked "garage sale", as if it is a yearly event or a required duty of all suburban families. Somehow or another, all those summers went by without another sale. We donated the stuff, or gave it to a larger garage sale being held by the chorus or some other organization. Sometimes it just went to the dump.

Today, we had our second garage sale. Yesterday, on the hottest day in recent history, we hauled everything out of the dusty garage onto the driveway. We talked to our neighbors and they joined in the "fun" by hauling out their stuff, too. Our dog walking friends and neighbors stopped by to peruse it. Honestly, some of that junk was stuff that should have been sold at our LAST sale, it was that old and moldy. In the last 15 minutes of the sale, we made half of our profits. Then the best neighbor in the world (ours), took all the leftovers in his truck down to Goodwill. It's gone!

We had a great time socializing with everyone and watching our small portion of the world go by. People seemed to enjoy picking over the tables and mostly buying things that we did not originally own.